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The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

Missouri v Georgia Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Missouri: The Showed You State
Everybody who thought that, after Week 7 of the season, Missouri would be unbeaten and all alone in first place in the SEC East raise your hands.  Now, put ‘em down as all y’all are lying.  Yet that’s exactly where Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers find themselves Sunday morning, sporting a spotless 6-0 record overall and an East-best 2-0 mark in SEC play thanks to their win over Georgia coupled with Florida’s loss to LSU.  Yes, Mizzou’s win came at the expense of the injury-ravaged Bulldogs, but it was huge for the Tigers regardless of the circumstances and how it’s couched as the win over No. 7 UGA was the program’s first against a Top-10 team on the road since dropping No. 9 Mississippi State in October of 1981.  Let’s not pop any SEC East champagne for Mizzou quite yet, however.  The next two weeks — without starting quarterback James Franklin — the Tigers will host Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back games that could very well determine the division’s representative in the SEC championship game.  And, no, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence in relation to Mizzou, especially after a debut season in the SEC that saw the Tigers win just two conference games (Kentucky, Tennessee).

Super Mariota… again
I’m fully aware of the fact that the Heisman is not handed out in the middle of October, but, dayum.  In six games this season, Marcus Mariota has thrown for 17 touchdowns, ran for another eight… and has thrown zero interceptions in 165 attempts.  And, as if tossing down the stiff-armed gauntlet, Mariota went out Saturday and had his finest performance of the season, all things considered.  Against a Washington defense that came into the game with Oregon ranked No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency defense, Mariota carved said defense to the tune of 24-of-31 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns.  For good measure, he added 88 yards rushing and another score.  Again, they don’t hand out the Heisman at this time of the year.  The award does, though, have a front-runner and Mariota is decidedly that.

Texas-sized Big 12 leader
It goes without saying that Texas’ 16-point beatdown of Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout qualifies as a stunner, what with the Longhorns having lost the last two rivalry games by a combined total of 80 points… and how they’ve been mired in mediocrity the past few years… and how Mack Brown‘s tenure is seemingly coming to a close.  It’s when you step back and look at the bigger picture, though, that you get the biggest jolt.  The Longhorns are currently one of three Big 12 teams with no losses in conference play, and are tied atop the standings at 3-0 with Texas Tech.  Baylor, which looked unstoppable against the lightweights on its schedule, was positively beatable on the road against Kansas State in its first real test of the season, although the Bears survived to remain that third unbeaten Big 12 team at 2-0.  Did the Longhorns save their season — and Brown’s job — Saturday?  It’s still too early to tell, especially with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the regular season still looming.  For now, though, the Golden Hat — and control of its own destiny in the Big 12’s race to the BCS — resides in Austin.

A Mannion’s man
Were it not for a three-point season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, Oregon State would very likely be a Twp-20 team at the moment.  And Sean Mannion might be getting the respect nationally he deserves.  Entering the game against Washington State Saturday night, the Beavers quarterback led the nation in passing yards per game (403.6) and passing touchdowns (21) through five games.  In his sixth game, Mannion did nothing but elevate his standing in both of those categories.  In helping OSU push its record to 5-1, Mannion passed for a season-high 493 yards and added four more touchdown passes as the Beavers cruised to a 52-24 win over Wazzu.  OSU, and thus Mannion, have yet to face a high-profile opponent, which has in large part led to the lack of recognition outside of Corvallis.  With games against Stanford (Oct. 26), Washington (Nov. 23) and the Civil War with Oregon (Nov. 29), Mannion will have plenty of opportunity to state his case nationally.  Provided he can rise to that level of competition, of course.

Brian FantanaBOB’s Big Ones
Bill O’Brien had already seen four missed field goals from the end of regulation through the first three overtimes against Michigan, including one off the foot of his own kicker.  Down by three and facing a fourth and one, O’Brien eschewed the field goal attempt that would’ve sent the game into a fifth overtime and instead grabbed his James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater.  A Bill Belton three-yard run got the first down and, four plays later, Belton scooted across from two yards out to knock the Wolverines from the ranks of the unbeatens.  O’Brien should be applauded for both having the guts to make that call at that juncture and for his awareness of the energy that had been expended by his Nittany Lions creating a need to not extend the game.

Rebounding with a vengeance
Just 10 days ago, Travis Wilson had a six-pack of picks that was largely responsible for Utah’s seven-point loss to No. 11 UCLA.  Against No. 5 Stanford, the Utes quarterback went out and totally redeemed himself.  While he threw another interception, Wilson was otherwise outstanding, completing 23-of-34 passes for 234 yards and a pair of critical first-quarter touchdowns that put the unbeaten Cardinal on notice… and helped drop them from undefeated and controlling their own destiny to one of the myriad one-loss teams that will need help getting back in the national title hunt.  Redemption is an awe-inspiring thing, especially when it’s a college kid on the receiving end one game later against one of the best teams in the country.

Riding the Green Wave
Coming off a disastrous two-win 2012 season, there were some calling for the head of head coach Curtis Johnson after just one year at Tulane.  Nearly a year later, those same people are very likely singing Johnson’s praises.  You see, the Green Wave has won five of its first seven games this season, including a thrilling triple-overtime win over East Carolina Saturday evening.  It’s the first time since 2004 that Tulane has won more than four games in a single season, and the Green Wave still has five games remaining to win one game and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002.  On top of all of that, Tulane is tied for the Conference USA West lead with Rice.  The individuals wanting Johnson gone last year may get their wish 12 months late; thanks to Tulane’s play, Johnson’s name will likely come up for various vacancies across the country in the coming months.

Army strongTerry Baggett , Donald Coleman
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say it: Terry Baggett does more before 3 p.m. than most running backs do all season.  Or something like that.  In the Black Knights’ 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan, the junior rushed for 304 yards on just 18 carries and added four scores on the ground for good measure.  Baggett came into the matchup with 440 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games of the season.  The 304 yards are an academy record, part of which came on a 96-yard touchdown run.  In closing, go Baggett and go ‘Merica…

LOSERS

Nov. 7
That day on the football calendar was shaping up to be arguably the best and most important Thursday in college football history.  Oregon at Stanford and Oklahoma at Baylor had most prognosticators pointing to it during the preseason as the day where the chase for the BCS would really begin to take shape.  Now?  Not so much thanks to Oklahoma’s blowout loss to Texas and Stanford’s stunning loss on the road to Utah.  Those games will still be important, especially as it pertains to the respective conference races, but it has certainly lost a lot of luster as far as the national stage is concerned because of Saturday’s events.

Bears are human after all
Through the first four games of its season, Baylor was the darling of the national media.  Averaging a nation’s best 781 yards per game (Oregon was next at 630) and scoring 70-plus points a contest, the Bears were the shiny thing dangled in front of a giddy toddler.  Of course, those gaudy stats came against Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia.  In their first real test of the season against Kansas State?  The gaudy numbers dissipated, but the winning didn’t.  The Bears were held to season-lows in total offense (445 yards), rushing (114) and points (35), but still managed to go into always-tough Manhattan and escape back to Waco with a 10-point conference win over the Wildcats.  The Bears may have been exposed, and K-State may have provided a blueprint for future Big 12 opponents to at least slow down the high-powered attack, but they showed a resiliency they haven’t needed all season long.  And that might be more impressive than any of the video game-like numbers they had put up through the first one-third of the regular season.

South Carolina v ArkansasKarma indeed
Very shortly after Wisconsin’s controversial loss to Arizona State in mid-September, Jen Bielema, the wife of former UW and current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, tweeted “#karma” in the general direction of the Badgers and their fans.  While I’m certain it’s merely coincidence — or the “k” word — the Razorbacks, after winning their first three games pre-tweet, have now lost four straight since Mrs. Bielema typed out the five-letter word and sent it hurtling out into the Twittersphere.  Punctuating the losing streak was Saturday’s humbling 45-point loss to South Carolina, the third straight SEC loss for Bielema by a combined total of 77 points.  Strong with this one, the karma is.

The Lane Kiffin Error Era
If you wanted to sum up Lane Kiffin‘s time at USC, these five words would just about do it: “The players have hope now.”  Those were the words of USC athletic director Pat Haden, and they came shortly after the Trojans upended Arizona in the USC interim debut of Ed Orgeron.  It was far from pretty, but there was an exuberance, an excitement that had been lacking for years under Kiffin and, to be honest, under the weight of NCAA sanctions.  Pulling the plug on Kiffin’s tenure as head coach was seen as a necessary move.  And, as it turns out, it was a refreshing one for the entire program as well. “You should have been in the locker room before the game, I’ve never seen anything like it. Guys were having a blast,” Haden, again, said afterwards.  The win was one thing; the words coming from those in and around the football program were a damning indictment of everything that’s gone in in the Land of Troy the past three-plus seasons, even if it did humble the Arrogant One.

Airror Force
The Air Force football program has officially hit rock bottom.  Leading San Diego State by 14 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, the Falcons gave up 21 straight points in a 10-minute span to snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.  The service academy is now 1-6, its worst start since going 1-6 to begin the 1993 season.  With an Oct. 26 game against Notre Dame on the horizon, the Falcons could very well be staring in the face of their worst start to a season since going 1-6-1 in 1980.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

— No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: The Tigers needed 14 fourth-quarter points to avoid an infamous Clemsoning.  We’ll just chalk this up to looking ahead to the titanic matchup with Florida State next weekend and move on.

— No. 8 Louisville 24, Rutgers 10: Thanks to a pillowy soft schedule, the Cardinals need to take its opponents to the woodshed each and every time they step on the field.  That didn’t happen Thursday night, which has caused some to already write off the UofL’s BCS title game hopes.  While that’s debatable, the Cardinals will likely see themselves lose ground in the polls again this week.

Texas A&M v Mississippi– No. 9 Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 38: In a wildly entertaining game, the Aggies needed a field goal as time expired to stay unbeaten on the road under Kevin Sumlin.  Of course, the win was due in large part to Johnny Football, who totaled 470 yards of total offense (346 passing, 124 rushing) in a performance that will keep him in the Heisman repeat mix.  That defense, though, is still an area of major concern and will likely bite the Aggies again at some point before the regular season ends.

— No. 15 Baylor 35, Kansas State 25: The Bears needed a real test and, after a hiccup up or two that nearly cost them an unblemished record.  the Waco Kids earned a passing grade.

— No. 20 Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 35:  The Red Raiders muddled through the first three quarters against the one-win Cyclones, tied at halftime and leading by just a touchdown entering the fourth.  Tech did, though, become the first bowl-eligible team in the Big 12 so they have that going for them, which is good.

— No. 23 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20:  Hey, the one-win Zips nearly knocked off Michigan in the Big House earlier this year.  It happens.

— No. 24 Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9: I’m putting this game here solely to highlight the Hokies’ defense as Tech allowed the Panthers just 23 yards rushing on 26 carries.  All told, Pitt was only able to must 210 yards of offense against a team that’s quietly ripped off six straight wins since its 25-point loss to Alabama to open the season.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — After a scoreless first quarter against Kentucky, I very nearly dropped the Tide below Oregon.  Then the second quarter and on happened and my goodness did the Tide roll, putting up 668 yards of offense and 48 points in a 41-point throttling of the Wildcats. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Arkansas

Oregon v Washington2. Oregon — Even with Alabama rolling (eventually) against a below-average Kentucky team, I was still (very) tempted to allow the Ducks to leapfrog the consensus No. 1 team in the country thanks to the virtuoso performance against arguably the best two-loss team in the country in Washington.  I couldn’t pull the trigger this week, but can’t promise a repeat if the Ducks continue mowing down the competition. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Washington State

3. Clemson — Despite eking by a very average Boston College team in Clemson’s version of Death Valley, the Tigers are still a very good football team.  Get a huge win over you-know-how Saturday, and they’ll elbow themselves right into the Alabama-Oregon mix. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Florida State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes were on a bye, and may benefit somewhat in the polls thanks to Clemson’s sleepwalk against BC.  Northwestern getting throttled by Wisconsin and Michigan losing to Penn State, however, is very bad long-term for OSU. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Iowa

5. Florida State — The Cardinal’s loss is the Seminoles’ gain.  A bye week for FSU allowed them to heal up for its Game of the Century against you-know-who Saturday. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 3 Clemson

(Dropped from the rankings: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.” — Steve Spurrier, after South Carolina went into Fayetteville and spanked the Razorbacks 52-7.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We sit back and let y’all bash us and bash our coaches. … There comes a time when you put a chip on your shoulder.” — Texas quarterback Case McCoy.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m looking forward to the next 30 minutes, because the first 30 minutes sucked.” — Pat Fitzgerald, after watching Northwestern fall behind Wisconsin 21-6 in the first half.  The next 30 minutes weren’t much better for the Wildcats as the final score ended up 35-6.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Yeah, playing your ass off.” — Texas co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite, when asked if an offensive identity had emerged for the Longhorns.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
[See extended version below]

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a huge fan of NASCAR, count me among those who were absolutely thrilled with the reports that a future Tennessee-Virginia Tech game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Having been to that short track — the August night race should be on any sports fan’s bucket list — I can see exactly how and why both the track and the schools would want to play in the modern-day motorized Colosseum.  Have you wondered, though, what it will look like?  Thanks to @NeylandStadium, we have a little perspective:

Bristol Neyland

That, folks, is Neyland Stadium sitting inside the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.  And that, folks, is freaking spectacular, even as I understand that some/most of the sight lines and vantage points won’t be optimal compared to playing in a stadium designed for football.

That said, I absolutely cannot wait to see — and possibly be a part of — that atmosphere.

Oh, and before you ask, no, ball carriers won’t be allowed to only make cuts to the left in that game.

SAY WHAT?
For the first time in the football program’s storied history, Alabama had a 300-yard passer (AJ McCarron‘s career-high 359 yards) and two 100-yard rushers (T.J. Yeldon, 16-124-2; Kenyan Drake, 14-106-2) in the same game.

TRUE STORY
From the Clemson Sports Information Department: Clemson’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher in Andre Williams to just 70 yards rushing and a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. He had entered the game averaging 153.6 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— Thanks to losses by Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford, there are now 14 teams at the FBS level with no losses this season.  The ACC has the most unbeatens at this juncture with three (Clemson, Florida State and Miami), while the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have two apiece.  On the flip side, and with UMass dropping still winless Miami (Ohio), there are eight teams remaining who have yet to win a game in 2013.  Two of the Unfortunate Octet reside in the American Athletic Conference.

Boston College v Clemson– Clemson’s Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards in the close win over Boston College to become the all-time leader in passing yards in Clemson history with 9,836 yards. He also moved in to fourth place in ACC history in the same category and into second place in carer 300-yard passing games (14).

Brett Hundley passed for 409 yards and three touchdowns to help unbeaten UCLA to a 37-10 win over Cal.

— Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery accounted for 296 all-purpose yards: 160 on kickoff returns, 131 receiving and five rushing.

— Jonathan Gray rushed for 123 yards and Malcolm Brown for 120 in Texas’ win over Oklahoma; it marked the first time UT has seen two players go over the century mark against OU.

— Washington’s Bishop Sankey, who entered the game fourth nationally in rushing yards per game at 146.4, rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Oregon.

— Louisiana Monroe’s Isaiah Newsome became just the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. The senior also broke the SBC record for interception return yardage in a single game with 146.

— Playing in place of the injured Baker MayfieldDavis Webb threw for 415 yards and three TDs in leading Texas Tech over Iowa State 42-35.

David Fales passed for 431 yards and three touchdowns in San Jose State’s 34-27 win over Colorado State.

— Coming off a concussion, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was sacked eight times in the loss to Virginia Tech.

— Utah’s win over No. 5 Stanford was the Utes’ first-ever over a team that entered the game ranked in the Top Five.  It was also the program’s first win over a team in the Top 10 since 1973.

— Florida extended its streak of holding SEC opponents under 20 points to 13 straight games against LSU, the longest in the conference.  Unfortunately, while the Gators held the Tigers to 17, they were held to six in the loss.

— Very enlightening stat from Jon Solomon of al.com: the past 14 games, Auburn has started five different quarterbacks.  Alabama has started three different quarterbacks the past 80 games.  Speaking of the Tigers…

— Auburn rolled up a school-record 712 yards of total offense in the Tigers’ 62-3 win over FCS-level Western Carolina.  Included in that total was 511 yards rushing on 43 carries, with nine different players credited with carries.

— Michigan State came into its game against Indiana as the No. 1 rush defense in the country, giving up an average of 51.2 yards per game; on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Hoosiers’ Tevin Coleman raced 64 yards right up the gut for a touchdown.  The rest of the game, however, the Spartans allowed just 28 yards on 26 carries in the 42-28 win.

— USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown the last two games… and have won both of those contests.  They are the first team ever at the FBS level to pull that trick in back-to-back weeks.

— Northern Illinois has now won 23 straight games at home, the longest such streak in the country.

— In a shout-out to the FCS, Fordham is 6-0 for the first time in a staggering 83 years.

IN CLOSING…
Les Miles
has, how shall we say it, a very unique and special relationship with the English language.  As the latest — and one of the best — example of that relationship, we leave you with the following transcript courtesy of CoachingSearch.com — the video’s HERE — in which Miles responds to a reporter stating that Florida was the hammer and LSU was the nail last season, with the roles being reversed this year.  Enjoy, and good night y’all:

“I’ve got a question for you. It was a 14-6 game. We played our asses off. How anybody could pick the hammer and the nail, when in fact, that hammer or nail, we catch a ball down there, we’re fixing to take the lead, and we turn it over. Explain to me how Kevin Minter, who set the damn near career tackle record in that game, how anybody could say hammer and nail?

“I can tell you right now, here’s what happens: Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. That’s how this thing works. In fact, you respect the opponent. He’s not the hammer and he’s not the frickin’ nail, OK? He’s the opponent. You understand?

“I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nail, you got it? Honest to Pete. We were a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that stadium. I’m just letting you know, I felt differently than the nail, so you know.”

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Report: Tide WR Cam Sims tore ACL at practice Saturday

Western Carolina v Alabama Getty Images

It’s not been a good couple of days for Alabama football off the field, what with a pair of arrests involving player with previous legal issues.  Now, that storm cloud has drifted into the on-field arena as well.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Matt Zenitz of al.com is reporting that Cam Sims sustained some type of a torn ACL during a spring practice session Saturday.  Given the timing of the injury, Sims could conceivably return at some time around the midway point of the 2015 season, if not slightly sooner.  Or, the true sophomore could take a redshirt.

While the football program has not yet addressed the player’s health and his status for the upcoming season, Sims intimated on Twitter that he has some type of significant issue he needs to overcome.

And, based on one of his retweets, it is indeed an ACL issue he’ll be forced to overcome.

As noted by Zenitz, Sims was being looked upon as a player who could potentially help replace the production lost by the departures of the Tide’s top three receivers.  In 2014, the departed ones, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, combined for 183 receptions for 2,495 yards and 21 touchdowns, although Cooper was responsible for roughly two-thirds of that production.

Sims, a four-star member of UA’s 2014 recruiting class, caught seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman.

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Gamecocks offer scholarship to Atlanta-area eighth-grader

Chris Hansen

Hey, if it’s good enough for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Jim Mora and, especially, Lane Kiffin, along with a handful of other FBS head coaches, it’s good enough for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Continuing a trend in college football that was seemingly patented by Kiffin around 2010 — and Bobby Knight in college basketball two decades before — the stepfather of Dominick Blaylock confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his stepson was offered a scholarship by South Carolina after he attended a Junior Day event at the school Saturday. What makes the offer to Blaylock, the son of former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, is that he’s a 14-year-old eighth-grader from the Atlanta area.

Blaylock himself told the Journal-Constitution he was “shocked that when I met the coaches, they went straight to the point with the offer.” And, according to the stepfather, this wasn’t just some whimsical move on the part of the Gamecocks — and that he thinks this is the first offer domino that will tumble in the coming weeks for his 5-11, 165-pound stepson.

“They said this was a firm offer, and they felt like it was important that South Carolina was Dominick’s first offer,” John Woods told the paper.

“I am happy for Dominick. I know there are more eighth-graders getting offered now. It seems like it’s happening with more eighth-graders every year. Dominick got invited to five Junior Days, so I think other offers are coming.”

As creepy as it is FBS programs scoping out kids still in middle school — Blaylock will be a Class of 2019 signee — the Gamecocks, as the stepdad alluded to, certainly aren’t alone in this trend.  And they aren’t alone amongst SEC teams with this specific recruiting interest as the AJC notes that Blaylock has also been invited to visit Florida, Auburn and Alabama this spring.

But this trend goes back much further than just Blaylock.

In February of 2010, Kiffin, then the head coach at USC, offered seventh-grade — seventh!!! — quarterback phenom David Sills a scholarship. Somewhat surprisingly, Sills remained a Trojan commit even through Kiffin’s firing in September of 2013, even attending quarterbacks meetings with coaches at one point, although he ultimately ended up decommitting from USC in June of last year and signing with West Virginia in February of this year.

Kiffin was also involved in a middle-school tug-of-war with cross-town rival UCLA in June of 2013, with both the Trojans and the Bruins offering to California middle schooler and Class of 2017 recruit Nathan Tilford. Both Alabama and LSU, among others, offered 14-year-old 2017 recruit Dylan Moses back in July of 2012 and February of 2013, respectively.

Some of the more recent examples of this (my words) disturbingly upward trend include LSU accepting a commitment from then 14-year-old eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann last year and Florida offering eighth-grader Blake Hinson earlier this month.

And somewhere, even though he’s still alive, Chris Hansen is rolling over in his grave…

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After another arrest, Alabama gives Jonathan Taylor the boot

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Not so unexpectedly, Alabama’s roster is a little lighter this Sunday afternoon.

In a statement sent out by the school just a short time ago, head coach Nick Saban announced that Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from his football program.  Taylor was arrested Saturday evening on domestic violence charges.

The defensive lineman was dismissed by Georgia last July after he was arrested on similar charges.

“Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from the team and is no longer a part of our program,” Saban’s statement began. “This will still need to go through the legal process, but when he was given an opportunity here, it was under strict guidelines and we made it clear there was a zero tolerance policy.”

It was the right move by Saban and, really, the only move he could’ve made.  The fact that he did it so swiftly, though, should not be overlooked — while Saban’s a man all in favor of second chances, don’t screw him over and embarrass him when you’re given what at the time was considered a controversial opportunity.

Taylor did just that, and paid the price for putting his hands on a woman again.  Allegedly.

There’s still no word on the fate of cornerback Geno Smith, who was arrested late Friday night for the second time in less than two years on a drunk-driving charge.

UPDATED 3:03 p.m. ET: Shortly after Taylor’s dismissal was announced, UA athletic director Bill Battle released the following statement:

Representing this University is a privilege that none of us can take for granted. As I noted in my comments when the decision was made to allow Jonathan Taylor to attend the University on a football scholarship, I believe in second chances. I still do. However, being successful in that second chance requires responsibility and accountability. In Jonathan’s situation, the University and the Department of Athletics set forth very clear standards of accountability and expectations of conduct. Jonathan was afforded a chance to successfully overcome the difficulties that resulted in his departure from the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, it appears that he was unable to do so, in spite of extensive efforts to assist him. All of us hope that Jonathan and the young lady involved can deal constructively with the issues that led to this situation, and their aftermath, so that both of them can have productive, healthy futures. Violent conduct by any representative of the University of Alabama athletics department will not be tolerated. More than ever, we take seriously the responsibility that all of us have to represent our University and our state in the best way possible – in competition and in daily life.

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Bama issues statement as details of Jonathan Taylor’s arrest emerge

Gator Bowl Football AP

Based on the details of Jonathan Taylor‘s domestic violence arrest — his second in eight months, no less — there’s seemingly no way he can move forward as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Saturday evening, the alleged victim, a 24-year-old female, told Tuscaloosa police officers responding to a call near the UA campus that she had been assaulted by Taylor, her boyfriend.  The incident report described the woman as having minor injuries around her neck; the officers also observed a bedroom closet door in the alleged victim’s residence with a hole punched through it.

ESPN.com writes that “officers located the suspect at the victim’s residence and spoke to him about the incident” and “found probable cause to arrest the suspect.” The defensive tackle was charged with domestic violence/assault and domestic violence/criminal mischief.

Taylor had been dismissed from Georgia last July following the initial domestic violence incident. In that case, which is still pending, the 6-4, 335-pound Taylor is accused of choking his then-girlfriend — a different female from the most recent incident — and striking her in the face with an open fist. Taylor has now been arrested three times in a little over a year, the other being theft by deception charges last March while he was still at UGA.

The decision by Nick Saban and UA to sign Taylor this past January was controversial; this latest incident has stirred up the local media natives yet again.  From al.com‘s Kevin Scarbinsky:

Saban has been especially passionate on the subject of second chances, and his heart may be in the right place, but too many Alabama football players manage to be good students and good citizens as well as good athletes to have their program’s reputation put at risk.

Taylor looked like a risk from the start. Now he looks like one of Saban’s and Alabama’s biggest mistakes.

In response to the situation, the university released a very brief statement early Sunday morning that’s scant on details as to Taylor’s future with the university in general and the football program specifically: “UA is aware of the incident. The student has been referred to judicial affairs.”

It would be very surprising if another statement wasn’t released at some point in the very near future, perhaps as early as today, in which Second-Chance Saban announces that Taylor is no longer a part of his football program.  At least, based on the current evidence and Taylor’s prior track record, that’s what should happen, and the sooner the better for the sake of a head coach’s and university’s image that has already taken a hit because of the player’s actions — and because of the way his signing was so staunchly defended at the time.

“We recruited this young man out of high school, and we felt that from what we knew about him, what his high school coach said, what the people at the school that he was at said about him, and where he came from in junior college, that he was the kind of guy that deserved a second chance,” Saban said on National Signing Day this past February. “But with that chance, we also have stipulations of things that he needs to do from a personal development standpoint so that he won’t make any kind of mistake like this ever again.

“That’s an ongoing process with him, and that’s something that we continue to monitor, and he has done a very good job with.”

“All of us in the University community have a role in helping student-athletes reach their potential – in competition, in the classroom and in life,” UA athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement at the time of the January signing. “It’s important to note that the young man will become a part of our program after going through an extensive process conducted by the University.

“As one of our state’s most high-profile entities, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to the University, our student-athletes, our community and our state.”

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Suspended Michigan lineman Graham Glasgow back at practice?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar AP

It appears that Graham Glasgow may be rather expeditiously climbing out of Jim Harbaugh‘s doghouse.

In July of 2014, Glasgow was sentenced in connection to a drunk-driving charge from March.  As part of that sentence, he was placed on 12 months probation, with one of the stipulations being that he couldn’t consume alcohol.  Earlier this month, however, the offensive lineman violated said probation by blowing a .086 on a Breathalyzer test, which triggered a suspension from the football program that was announced March 16.

Less than two weeks later, it looks as if Glasgow is back to practicing with his teammates.  Or, at the very least, dressing for practice.

From the Twitter account of UM director of player development Gwendolyn Bush (aka the mother of Stanford transfer Wayne Lyons):

In the background is a No. 61.  Glasgow wears No. 61, and is the only player with that number listed on the Wolverines’ online roster.  So, unless another player borrowed the jersey, Glasgow is back on the practice field.

What this means is unclear as mlive.com writes that “[a] Michigan official has not responded to a request for comment, and it is not known if Glasgow’s suspension is officially over or not.” In the immediate aftermath of Glasgow’s OVI arrest last March, he was suspended indefinitely by then-head coach Brady Hoke before being allowed to return to practice a week later. He was, though, suspended for the 2014 opener.

According to the Detroit Free Press, and because of his recent probation violation, Glasgow “will have six more months of probation past his original July 2015 end date, will have to take breathalyzer tests twice a day now, once in the morning (6-9 a.m.) and once at night (9 p.m.-12 a.m.) at the Ann Arbor Police Department and will have to serve five days on a Washtenaw County Jail Work Program by April 30.”

Provided he can get past his legal issues and avoid any further hiccups, Glasgow would serve as a talented and experienced piece of UM’s line as he started all 11 games in which he played last year. In 2013, Glasgow started 13 games — nine at center, four at guard.

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‘Bama DT Jonathan Taylor again arrested for domestic violence

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

After an alleged domestic violence incident led to his dismissal at Georgia last July, Jonathan Taylor signed with Alabama in January as one of Nick Saban‘s second-chance signees.  Less than three months later, Taylor is making his new head coach look rather foolish and/or naïve.

Both Aaron Suttles of TideSports.com and Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News are reporting that Taylor is once again facing charges related to a domestic incident earlier today.  According to the Tuscaloosa Police Department’s website, Taylor is facing charges of domestic violence/assault and domestic violence/criminal mischief.

At this moment, details of what led to the defensive tackle’s arrest have not been released.  Taylor remains in jail in lieu of a pair of $500 bonds.

Taylor has been participating with his new Tide teammates in spring practice, even as his initial signing caused enough of a controversy that the school felt the need to address it in a statement.  It would seem unlikely that Saban would allow the lineman to remain on his squad, not with two domestic violence arrests in less than a year littering his record, the first of which is still pending in the state of Georgia.  Additionally, Taylor was one of four UGA players arrested last March on theft by deception charges.

Taylor was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  After taking a redshirt his true freshman season, Taylor played in 10 games in 2013.  He spent the 2014 season at the JUCO level.

Overall, it’s been a rough last 24 hours or so for the Tide off the field.

Late Friday night, defensive back Geno Smith was arrested for driving under the influence.  It was the senior’s second drunk-driving arrest in less than two years, prompting him to issue a public apology on Twitter.

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NCAA to study future handling of grad transfers

Louisville v Wichita State Getty Images

The NCAA has already changed the way it deals with hardship waivers for transfers.  Now, The Association is seemingly set to further stifle the movement of its student-athletes.

The Division I Council Coordination Committee appointed earlier this month the Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group to do what a release describes as “consider where improvements can be made to current [transfer] rules,” with the group focusing “on graduate transfers and permission-to-contact rules.”

Currently, FBS graduate transfers in all sports can transfer to another FBS program without sitting out a season, proved three provisions are met: 1. the student-athlete has graduated from his current institution; 2. the student-athlete enrolls in a graduate program at his new university not offered at his previous one; and 3. the student-athlete’s original university signs off on the transfer.

What the group will look into in the coming months is “whether to update the policy for graduate transfers to more closely mirror a new policy adopted last year for undergraduate transfers.”

Earlier this month, the new policy mentioned above went into effect, effectively eliminating the hardship waiver that provided immediately eligibility for a transfer. Previously, a student-athlete could file an appeal for a hardship waiver on various grounds, the most common one of which was related to illnesses and/or situations in the family that necessitated a move closer to home; now, potential transfers can request a waiver that would extend their eligibility out by another season but cannot gain immediate eligibility.

Normally a graduate transfer would have a single season of eligibility remaining, although there are occasionally exceptions. If the new procedure is adopted — it wouldn’t be in place until the 2016-17 academic year at the earliest — a graduate transfer would be forced to sit out the first season with his/her new program, then have another season of eligibility tacked on the following year if the waiver is granted.

For example, if Cardale Jones, by then a redshirt junior, decides to transfer out of Ohio State to Michigan after graduating next May, Jones would be forced to sit out the 2016 season. He could then apply for a waiver that would give him one more year of eligibility in 2017.

Provided, of course, the same policy in place for undergrad transfers is implemented for grad transfers.

“Student transfers are an important issue in higher education, and it is no different in athletics,” said co-chair Jere Morehead, Georgia president, in a statement. “The group will be mindful of the integration of athletics and academics when creating recommendations for Division I transfer policy or legislation.”

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Tide’s Geno Smith tweets apology following latest arrest

Geno Smith Mugshot

Late last night, Alabama’s Geno Smith was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.  It was the senior cornerback’s second drunk-driving-related arrest in less than two years.

Smith did not participate in practice Saturday, in large part because he was still jailed around the time his teammates began yet another spring session.

Head coach Nick Saban did not address the latest development involving an experienced piece of his secondary, although that’s expected to happen early this coming week.  Ahead of that, a contrite Smith took to Twitter to apologize to the university, the football program and its fans for his latest off-field misstep.

Whether it’s enough to help avoid the full wrath of Saban — and maintain a spot on the roster for his final season — remains to be seen.

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Pair of Seminole LBs to miss rest of spring with shoulder injuries

Bethune-Cookman v Florida State Getty Images

A pair of Florida State linebackers who had their 2014 seasons interrupted by suspensions have not seen their spring interrupted by injuries.

Friday, head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed that both Chris Casher and Matthew Thomas (pictured) will miss the remainder of the spring due to shoulder issues.  The former has already undergone surgery to repair his damage, while “[w]e’re gonna have to end up [surgically] fixing” the latter.”

The issue with Thomas is an ongoing and lingering one. He took a medical redshirt for the 2013 season because of it, while he dealt with the issue throughout the 2014 season as well.

“It popped out. Popped out,” Fisher said of the shoulder according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It popped out a bunch of times last year, one game it popped out four different times. It popped out the other day. It’s too loose.”

After a copious amount of drama and a splash of theatrics, Thomas signed with FSU as a five-star recruit in 2013. As a redshirt freshman last season — he played in four games in 2013 before the initial injury — Thomas was suspended in early September and didn’t return until mid-October. He went on to play in the remaining eight games, making three starts.

Casher, meanwhile, was suspended for the 2014 opener for what was described as an academic-related issue. He ended up starting two of the final 13 games of that season.

Despite some on-field production, Casher is more well-known for off-field headlines, whether it be in connection to the Jameis Winston sexual assault allegations or being sued by his attorney or being stopped by police at gunpoint over a pellet gun.

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WR Isaiah Jones leaving FSU, will likely land at Miss. JUCO

Isaiah Jones AP

In August of last year, Isaiah Jones was declared academically ineligible and didn’t play a down for Florida State in 2014.  As it turns out, that’ll be the case in 2015 — and likely beyond.

Friday, head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed that Jones has decided to transfer out of the FSU football program and continue his playing career elsewhere.  That elsewhere, according to Fisher, is likely East Mississippi State Community College.

The Palm Beach Post noted that Jones had traveled with the team to the Rose Bowl and said at the time that, as a longtime Seminole fan, he had no desire to transfer.  What prompted the change of heart, and whether it was again related to academics, wasn’t addressed.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2013 recruiting class, Jones was rated as the No. 28 receiver in the country and the No. 36 player at any position in the talent-rich state of Florida. As a true freshman in 2013, the 6-4, 194-pound Jones caught two passes for 31 yards.

His production could’ve been higher that season, but a foot injury forced him to miss most of the second half of the season.

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Ole Miss’ leading tackler, second-leading rusher sustain injuries

Mississippi v Texas Getty Images

The bad news for Ole Miss is that key players on each side of the ball have sustained injuries.  The good news?  It’s only the spring, and the start of the new season is still more than five months down the road.

The most significant injury was sustained by defensive back Mike Hilton, who broke his thumb during a practice session earlier this week.  Additionally, running back Jordan Wilkins suffered what’s being described a sprained MCL.

Hilton will miss the remainder of the spring, but is expected to be healthy enough to participate in summer camp at the beginning of August.  Wilkins’ availability for the rest of the spring is to be determined.

In 2014 as a third-year junior, Hilton started 11 of the Rebels’ 13 games.  He led the team in tackles with 71, and was second in interceptions (three) and passes broken up (seven).

Over the past three seasons, Hilton has started 26 of the 36 games in which he’s played.

Wilkins‘ 361 yards rushing as a redshirt freshman last season was second on the Rebels, while his 6.9 yards per carry was tied for tops on the team.

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McElwain talks ‘insufficient’ cupboard left by Muschamp

Hungry Hill Getty Images

Will Muschamp may be gone at Florida, but he’s certainly not been forgotten.

Shortly after his firing last November, Muschamp was very emphatic in stating that the Gators possess “a deep and talented roster, so don’t let that new guy tell you he ain’t got any players.”

The new guy in this case is Jim McElwain, hired away from Colorado State in December and charged with cleaning up the mess in Gainesville. And, apparently, he didn’t get Muschamp’s memo.

From al.com:

“When you look at it, you know, the thing that has been lacking is the numbers and the size of what we’re doing on the other side of the ball,” McElwain told reporters in Gainesville. “It’s probably the reason we’re here. That’s all right, man, I’m excited to be here and we’re going to get it taken care of.”

“They’re trying their tails off,” McElwain said. “For the lack of numbers there, and it’s one of those things you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt and right now, quite honestly, the hand we were dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas. And yet at the same time that’s what you have, so we’re going to make the best of it. Those guys are battling in there. To try to even create kind of two groups is hard, so these guys, we’re giving them spells. Just kind of the way we practice, we had to kind of totally change how we will normally practice here in the future.”

It’s not uncommon for the new cook on campus to lament the lack of ingredients left in the cupboard. One of the things that lamenting does, though, is undercut those who remain on the roster.

Perhaps mindful of that, McElwain also tossed around words like “foundation” and “toughness” and “fight” in an attempt to soften what he sees as a lack of depth at best and, at worst, an overall lack of talent.

“The thing about this group of guys is they care about each other and care about the team,” the first-year coach said. “They fight their way through tough times, and that’s how you build the foundation of a football team. It’s really exciting to watch because at some point in the season, this toughness foundation is going to be what carries us, and we’re learning all about that right now.”

While they’re far from the gospel, recent recruiting rankings would suggest that McElwain at least has some talent with which to work — he and his staff just needs to coach them up better than their predecessors.

Muschamp was hired as UF’s head coach on Dec. 10, 2010. In his four recruiting classes, none finished lower than 12th nationally according to Rivals.com. That was Muschamp’s first class, one that he had roughly three months to put/hold together.

The first full class of the Muschamp era was in 2012, and that class finished No. 3 overall and No. 2 in the SEC. That was followed up by the fourth-ranked class in 2013 that was again second in the conference.

Even when rumors were swirling that he was a dead man coaching, Muschamp was able to pull in the No. 8 class in 2014, although that was only good for sixth in the conference.

Again, recruiting rankings aren’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to wins and losses, but they are a good indicator of potential.  And potentially, McElwain, whose first class ranked 23rd nationally and 10th in the conference — they get a pass on that — has a lot more talent with which to work than he’s allowing.

Tempering expectations of an anxious and dissatisfied fan base?  Perhaps.  Or he’s realized that the most important ingredient in the kitchen, the quarterback, may not necessarily be in his cupboard at the moment.

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Miami’s leading returning rusher suspended for spring game

Joseph Yearby, Jeremy Cash AP

Miami takes the field this afternoon for its annual spring game, and the Hurricanes will do so without a player who’ll be expected to be a key piece of their 2015 offensive puzzle.

Shortly before the game kicked off, Miami announced that Joseph Yearby has been suspended for the spring finale.  According to the team, it was for a violation of unspecified team rules.

According to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald, the suspension involves allegedly breaking curfew so that the running back could be in attendance at a life-altering event:

I was told by my source, but not by UM, that Yearby was suspended for breaking curfew last night.

I was told he was there for the birth of his baby, but I did not have that confirmed and I don’t know when the baby was born.

It seems incomprehensible that Yearby would be suspended for attending the birth of his child, but we’ll just have to await Al Golden‘s postgame talk with the media and see if he offers any further explanation to the report.

Last season as a true freshman, Yearby was second on the team with 509 yards rushing.  He also added eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Duke Johnson‘s early departure for the NFL, Yearby will get the opportunity to be the bell cow for the Hurricanes’ ground game.

UPDATED 2:52 p.m. ET: And now a little bit more of the rest of the real story.

Yearby did indeed become a new father recently… over the winter.  Becoming a new parent, however, had nothing to do with the suspension; instead; it was breaking curfew last night that sidelined the back.

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Alabama DB Geno Smith again arrested on DUI charge

Sammie Coates ,Geno Smith Getty Images

I guess now we’re going to find out just how wedded Nick Saban is to his second chance mantra, and if it extends to a third chance.

While the details are scant at the moment, and the school has yet to address the situation, Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Geno Smith was arrested Friday night on a charge of driving under the influence.  According to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department website, Smith was released on a $1,000 bond this afternoon.

From the sheriff’s department’s website:

Geno Smith Mugshot

What makes this a significant issue for Smith is that it’s the player’s second alcohol-related charge in less than two years.

In August of 2013, Smith was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.  A couple of days later, Saban announced that the defensive back would be suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech.

Smith started six of the 14 games in which he played last season as a true junior last season.  All told, he’s played in 39 games in his three seasons with the Tide, including eight starts.

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NCAA says no malice involved in Reggie Bush investigation

Todd McNair AP

Well, that settles it.  Or not.

AS CFT wrote earlier this week, the NCAA Tuesday released 500 pages of documents– including damning internal dialogue – related to the Reggie Bush investigation as part of a defamation lawsuit involving former USC running backs coach Todd McNair. The documents revealed those involved stepping well beyond the bounds of normal investigation protocol – including value judgments on the program’s hiring of Lane Kiffin as head coach — and seemingly showing bias against the USC football program in meting out near-historic sanctions that crippled the Trojans for years.

Suffice to say, USC was not pleased with how the NCAA’s investigation was conducted as portrayed in the document dump, saying in a statement that “[w]e are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process.” In that same statement, the school intimated that further action could be taken — legal action of its own would be the most likely recourse — depending upon further review of documents, both those that have been released and others that may soon, as the school expects, come to light.

In a statement released Friday, the NCAA, which has been accused by the McNair camp of not releasing all pertinent documents, claimed that its Committee on Infractions “acted appropriately” and “engaged in a comprehensive, deliberative process and did not act with malice” in the Bush investigation.  Furthermore, a governing body that saw one COI member compare the Bush investigation to the Oklahoma City bombing had the audacity to write “[i]t is unfortunate that Mr. McNair’s unfounded claims have resulted in an attack on the character and integrity of dedicated individual committee members and the overall infractions process.”

For the entirety of the NCAA’s statement, grab your hip waders and step in it below:

As a result of the Court of Appeals February 6 decision and in order to have a meaningful appeal opportunity, the NCAA filed a collection of documents with the court which demonstrate that the Division I Committee on Infractions acted appropriately when reaching its conclusions in the USC Infractions Report.

These publicly filed documents illustrate how the Committee on Infractions underwent thorough deliberations consistent with the policies and procedures governing the infractions process. The documents, including committee’s e-mail correspondence after the hearing which has received the most attention, further demonstrate that the Committee on Infractions is not a body of single-minded individuals but rather a group of individuals with different perspectives who worked diligently to reach a consensus based on information presented to the committee.

After careful review of the documents, we are confident the Court of Appeals will conclude that the committee engaged in a comprehensive, deliberative process and did not act with malice.

Our volunteer committee members, comprised of highly reputable individuals from member schools, conferences and the public, work extremely hard to uphold the NCAA’s mission and values. It is unfortunate that Mr. McNair’s unfounded claims have resulted in an attack on the character and integrity of dedicated individual committee members and the overall infractions process.

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